An Israeli spyware has been used to target activists, politicians and journalists from around the world.
According to an investigation into a massive data leak by The Guardian, the Washington Post and 15 other media outlets, activists, politicians and journalists from around the were targeted in a surveillance operation using software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group.
The report which was released on Sunday revealed that several authoritarian governments misused the Pegasus software to hack ‘37 smartphones’.
According to the Guardian, the leak contains a list of more than 50,000 numbers believed to have been of interest to clients of NSO since 2016. However, the mention of phone numbers in the leaked data does not necessarily mean that those devices were hacked, it said.
The numbers on the list also belonged to heads of state and prime ministers, members of Arab royal families, diplomats and politicians, as well as activists and business executives, revealed the Washington Post.
The Guardian said that several renowned journalists from different media organizations around the world were also on the list journalists from Agence France-Presse, the Economist, CNN, Radio Free Europe, El País, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, France 24, Al Jazeera, Mediapart, the Associated Press, Le Monde, Bloomberg, , Reuters and Voice of America.
“According to forensic analysis by Amnesty’s Security Lab, two women close to slain Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi were targeted with Pegasus spyware. The phone of Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, was infected with the malware days after his murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, the paper, for whom Khashoggi wrote, reported,” Al-Jazeera wrote quoting the Washington Post.
Pegasus, a sophisticated surveillance tool developed by the Israel company, infects the user’s smartphone and steals all the phone’s information, including every contact name and phone number, text message, email, Facebook message, everything from Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat and Telegram.